PLAN 72: Article
A New Initiative In Landscape And Urbanism

Seeking Strategic Solutions to the Pressing Challenges of Our Time

The School of Architecture + Planning is launching a new initiative exploring how landscape and design can redirect contemporary urbanization. The effort is centered in the school’s Joint Program in City Design and Development, a collaboration between the Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the Department of Architecture, also involving the Center for Real Estate and the Media Lab.

Intended for students of architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning and related fields, the initiative is focused on landscape intelligence – analyzing the forces that shape the built and natural environment and using that understanding to design strategic solutions to the most pressing environmental and social challenges of our time – including climate change, renewable energy, water conservation, landscape toxicity, deindustrialization, environmental justice, adaptive reuse and the design of cultural landscapes.

This unique line of practice and inquiry makes use of rapidly expanding design and technological tools that enable new readings of landscape systems, and the flows and forces that shape the world, to create projects that are consonant with the deep context of a place, as opposed to superficial cosmetic design. Professionals who use these new tools to understand how natural and cultural systems function in cities, and how they interact with new design and planning interventions, will be the leaders in producing the smart urban landscapes of the future.

With six full-time landscape architects on the faculty – bringing a broad range of expertise in landscape inquiry, planning and multi-scalar urban design – the initiative is designed to accommodate a wide range of customized educational paths. The faculty members are:

Eran Ben-Joseph, MA, Landscape Architecture; PhD, Environmental Planning & Urban Design. Urban and physical design, standards and regulations, site planning technologies and urban simulation.

Alan Berger, MLA, Landscape Architecture. Landscape architecture; environmental planning; urban brownfields and reclamation; geospatial mapping and landscape representation, aerial documentary photography

Michael Flaxman, MCRP, Doctor of Design. Large landscapes, GIS, alternative futures planning, geovisualization, planning support systems

Lorlene Hoyt, MLA, Landscape Architecture, MCP, PhD, City Planning. Neighborhood economic development; community development; the design, transfer and impact of local development tools

Anne Whiston Spirn, MLA, Landscape Architecture. Landscape planning and urban design; urban ecology; landscape history and theory; documentary photography

James Wescoat, BLA, Landscape Architecture; MA, Geography; PhD, Geography. Water management and policy; landscape heritage conservation and design

Beginning in September 2009, the faculty will be offering landscape and urbanism subjects through several of the school’s existing graduate degree programs:

In the Department of Urban Studies and Planning
• the professional Master of City Planning
• the mid-career Master of Science in Urban Planning

• the PhD in Urban and Regional Planning

In the Department of Architecture
• the professional Master of Architecture
• the post-professional Master of Science in Architecture Studies

• the PhD in History, Theory and Criticism of Architecture

The deadline for fall admissions is January 15. For detailed admissions information on any of these programs see the department websites at and

For general information about Landscape + Urbanism at MIT contact Professor Alan Berger in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at and/or Professor James Wescoat in the Department of Architecture at

Posted October 2008